Jeff the Great's Open Letter to Tri-Met

Dear Tri-Met

I write you today as a formerly regular, but now occasional rider of the Max system in Portland, Oregon. I’d like to depend on the Max as an efficient and reliable form of transportation around this beautiful city, but too many problems exist for this to be true. In this letter I will outline four problems that I have recognized as well as your opportunities to fix them.

1. The average American worker is probably in the office from 8am-5pm. That would tell me that the busiest hours for the Max are from 7am-8am and again from 5pm-6pm. Why then would your customer service call center only be open from 8am-5pm?

More than one time now I have had to call your customer service center to find out the status of a train when more than a half hour had gone by without a new arrival. Each time was either on my way to work before 8am or on the way home after 5pm. Imagine my surprise when after the automated system told me all was running smoothly, your office was closed when I dialed through to a customer service representative.

The Fix: Make sure your customer service center is open when customers need them most!

2. Your ‘No Smoking on Max Platforms’ rule sounded like a great idea when you implemented it more than a year ago. However, I found that second hand smoke went from being an after thought to a complete annoyance after the ban was implemented.

Why you ask? What happened was the occasional smoker was forced to smoke just outside the entrances to the Max platforms. With railings that funnel riders to and from trains, I am forced to walk directly in front of the communing smokers. Not to mention the piles of cigarette butts that litter these same entrances.

The Fix: Go back to the way it was, at least non-smokers had a choice then!

3. I notice on the West Side Blue Line there are 2 area’s of track with posted speed limits for Max operators. Bravo to your drivers, they always obey these signs. The problem is they still fly in and out of every other stop! Would speed limits on I-5 do any good if they were only posted between Eugene and Salem but no where else? Of course not.

I am sure what happened is that someone was injured or killed at those 2 spots and you felt the solution to the problem was posting a sign. Guess what…in the grand scheme of things it does nothing.

The Fix: Remove the stupid signs and let the drivers drive!

4. I’d ride the Max more often if it got me to my destination quick like. In Paris, for example, I can take the subway from one end of the city to the other in 30 minutes. In Portland however, it’s at least 1.5 hours. “Why” you ask, “Portland is so much smaller?” It’s because the Max stops at what seems to be every mile!

Certain areas are worse than others. Does the Max have to stop every other block in downtown Portland? Would it kill anyone to walk an extra block or two to pick up a train? And how about Beaverton? Most stops serve very few people; Can you skip one or two?

Something’s got to be done and I have a viable solution that you just might like.

The Fix: Speed up trips on the Max by having every other train stop at every other stop. This cuts the number of stops in half and delivers riders to their destination faster. The best part is that every stop is still served nearly, but not, as often.

Thank you for taking the time to listen to this investors suggestions (I am a tax payer, unlike many of the Max riders I come across). I am more than happy to discuss these options with you further and would even be willing to provide my consulting services free of charge.


Jeff the Great


Startup Empire said...

So true

Jason McHuff said...

Regarding smokers, at many stations they could have them go to the far end of the platform. Also, its amazing to hear that they are actually following the rules by leaving the platform.

As for speed, I don't see what's wrong with "flying in and out of every other stop"? Doesn't that help trains go faster? And one problem with having trains serve every other stop is the people who want to go to a stop served by the first train to one served by the second train. Not saying it wouldn't work.

But what they really should be doing is boring a tunnel through downtown.

Doc M, phd said...

Agreed, nothings wrong with flying in and out of every stop. There should be consistancy though, does safety only matter at 1 or 2 stops?

Thanks for coming by,

Jeff the Great

The Guilty Carnivore said...

I find your ideas to be quite palatable.

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